Counting down 4 months before K enters Primary 1. I think I am less enthusiastic than I should be, instead of giving him more preparation work for primary 1, we are taking it easy.
A little too easy I think, as the only classes he attend weekly are Chinese enrichment classes. I have to admit that Chinese is just about the only subject that makes me a tad nervous about Primary 1. Yesterday, it just dawned on me that there is this other subject that I have not taught him; Fairy Tales.
I have discovered that your child needs to have the knowledge of fairy tales, specifically, politically correct fairy tales. See this photo taken from a friend, who shared her child’s answers from a segment from an actual Primary 1 English Test Paper on Facebook.
Photo used with permission from the mom
So the child was penalized for not knowing her fairy tales, or rather, stories that are in their right structure and order. Handsome princes can never be turned into snakes by fairy godmothers, and castles should always be beautiful, but cannot be on beautiful green fields.
Really, I don’t see anything wrong with the answers she provided. There are no grammatical or spelling errors. and the language structure is correct. The teacher must have added a politically correct fairy tale module in her evaluation of these answers, thus, the child will not pass based on her slightly varied take to what is deem as a right representation of sentence structure in fairy tales.
I assume that the purpose of this question was to get the child to test the child’s ability to; re-arrange the sentence, identify and build sentence parts and probably capitalize sentence beginnings and punctuate statements. This questions were likely meant to test the child’s skills to select the appropriate language structure and become an independent writer. So then, why is the child being penalized for not knowing her fairy tales?
This, I believe, is just a common example of how conformity is being inculcated in our local education system. Success through education is determined by exam results, which have marking schemes to follow. There is only ONE right answer to every question.
I thought about what I will do if K encounters the same things when he start Primary school next year:
1. Meet the teacher, and explain my view on why this answer should be marked as correct. However, this will be dependent on whether I have already sized up the teacher to find out more about her personality. If she is open and accommodating to parental feedback, she might feel a little apologetic and then change her marking on the paper. Or if the teacher is by-the-book and inflexible, my child might get unnecessary attention amongst the 29 other kids in class or just get ignored eventually.
AND / OR
2. Explain to child that conformity is part of societal expectations, model answers and behavior is needed to get approval from teachers and school. However, share with child that his answer is correct according to English language structure and rules. And continue to encourage creativity in modules of creative writing, problem solving and life in general, apart from school.
Frankly, I think this is rather sad, but so real in our educational system. Here’s my proposition for Singapore School Education that embodies how I see it at this point;
Singapore Primary School Education – Train your kids to be square pegs to fit into perfect square holes for a box.
Likely Responsible for coma-tosing your child’s creativity over time.
I can’t help but to be cynical when I see things like that, and wonder what then happens to the round pegs, triangular pegs, the oval pegs, or how about those pegs which don’t really have a defined shape.
In the meantime, I need to get my hands on a fairy tale book to do read-alouds with the little boy.
Do share what you will do if you encounter this situation with your child. Will you take it in your stride and just address it with your child separately, resign to the situation and not pursue it further, and/or choose to speak to the teacher?
*This post has a follow-up post that will address some of the comments shared, do read the post here.